Light, fresh and healthy spring meals hit the spot

By Ellie Rulon-Miller

Spring is officially here – temperatures may still be hovering around chilly and cold, but according to the calendar the spring season has been upon us since last Saturday. The semester is already halfway over, and summer will soon be here. Yes, it’s the perfect time to get healthy and fit for summer.

Dieting in springtime can be very easy because of all the fruits and vegetables that are in season. Spring and summer are the best seasons for light salads. The “spring salad” is simple to make, and it’s easy to come up with your own variations to make your taste buds sing with delight.

One version of the spring salad has strawberries in it, so it would be best to make when strawberries are in season – closer to May would be ideal. The salad contains six cups of torn spinach, two cups of halved strawberries, two tablespoons of slivered almonds, goat cheese and French bread. To make it, you just put together the spinach, strawberries, and almonds in a bowl, toast a few slices of French bread, and spread some goat cheese on it. Goat cheese can also add to the taste of the salad without the bread.

These ingredients are easy to find and highly nutritious. Spinach is loaded with antioxidants, contains protein and has a lot of vitamins and minerals. One cup of strawberries has only 45 calories and will give you your daily needed Vitamin C. Almonds, like most nuts, contain “good fats.” They help lower your cholesterol. Almonds are also a good source of Vitamin E. Goat cheese is a healthy alternative to cheese made from cow’s milk – it has more protein and less fat and is generally easier to digest than cow’s milk products.

This salad is delicious without dressing, but would also be great with a light dressing. The Internet holds a bevy of recipes for healthy, homemade salad dressings.

You can also make a decent spring salad using the contents of the salad bar at the dining commons on campus, albeit a slightly heavier one. Just use spinach, tomato as an alternative to strawberries, nuts, dried cranberries and a small amount of cheese. The dining commons usually have walnuts, if not at the salad bar then near the ice cream. To add fiber and protein to this salad, add kidney beans.

Healthy snacking is simple too. Among the most underrated snack foods is yogurt. The dining commons also have low-fat granola available in their selection of cereals.

But spring isn’t just about tasty, healthy salads – it’s also about spending time outside. Getting exercise and having fun are one in the same during spring. The sun is out; the temperature doesn’t require a sweatshirt. This is perfect weather for soccer, Frisbee, basketball, kickball – any outdoor game.

It’s also a great time for weekend hiking. A short drive away is Mt. Tom, a great hike with beautiful views (and a plethora of perfect picnic locations).

With wonderful weather on the way – just after those pesky snow showers coming up – there’s nowhere to hide from healthy springtime fun. Get out there and get fit the fun and easy way this spring!

Ellie Rulon-Miller can be reached at [email protected]